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Indonesian politician who disappeared in corruption scandal found in hospital

Setya Novanto seen at parliament in Jakarta earlier this month. Source: Antara Foto/Reuters.

This material belongs to: The Guardian.

Setya Novanto had reportedly been on his way to meet investigators when his car collided with an electrical pole.

The search for Indonesia’s house speaker Setya Novanto, who disappeared after becoming the target of an arrest warrant, came to a dramatic end on Thursday when he was reportedly found unconscious in hospital.

The high-profile politician had been on his way to meet anti-corruption investigators when his car collided with an electrical pole in south Jakarta, said his lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi.

Novanto, who is parliamentary speaker and head of the influential Golkar party, has been dogged by persistent allegations that he played a central role in a massive corruption scandal involving an electronic identity card project.

It is alleged he is among a group of legislators and businessmen that siphoned off millions from the project, costing Indonesia $170m in state losses.

After repeatedly dodging calls to be questioned by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), a warrant for his arrest was issued on Wednesday evening.

However, he could not be found until news of the car accident broke on Thursday evening.

Given his condition, it was unclear when Novanto would be officially questioned, but KPK investigators said they had already visited his VIP room at Permata Hijau hospital.

“The team was able to meet and coordinate with the doctors handling SN [Setya Novanto] at 6.30am this morning,” KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah said on Friday.

Indonesian social media users have been largely incredulous about the latest developments in the case, with some sarcastically applauding the house speaker for yet another escape from the law.

Novanto was hospitalised last month for heart, kidney and vertigo issues, treatment that also coincided with calls from the KPK to be questioned about the corruption scandal.

At that time a photo of Novanto in a hospital bed showed him hooked up to a heart monitoring machine but the flat heart rate – indicating he was either dead or not connected to it – sparked online ridicule and numerous memes.